Report: 3 Utah areas top nation in population growth

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The U.S. Census Bureau has released a report on the fastest-growing regions across the country, citing three Utah areas.

Wasatch County was listed as the third fastest-growing county in the past decade, while St. George and Provo-Orem were on the top 10 list of fastest-growing metro areas, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The Census Bureau released the report Thursday after estimating the final population count between 2010 and 2019.

Wasatch County, the home of Heber City, was the third in growth among all counties in the United States, growing about 45% from 23,525 to 34,091 people, the report said.

St. George ranked fifth in growth among all metro areas, growing 29% from 138,115 residents to 177,556. Provo-Orem was also ranked, listed as ninth among all metro areas with 23% growth, increasing from 526,885 residents to 648,252.

During 2019, Utah County grew by more than any other county in the state with 2.4%, or 14,175 people. In comparison, Salt Lake County grew by 1%, or 11,745 people. The two counties made up half of the state’s overall growth combined, the report said.

“That’s what you would expect,” said Pam Perlich, senior demographer at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. “They have the proximity to work, universities and health facilities. They are the core urban areas.”

Some experts have raised concerns that complications from the coronavirus pandemic may put a halt to state growth.

“The enumeration for the 2020 census is under way right now,” Perlich said.

With students being sent home early from large universities here, “we’re hopeful that we’ll still be able to count those students in their usual college residences — or that will very negatively impact the counts in Provo, Orem and Salt Lake City.”

Perlich also mentioned that migration, retirement and births could all decline because of economic uncertainty and a decreasing value in stocks and other assets.

“But it’s way, way too early for us to know for sure,” Perlich said.